Thursday 29 May 2014

Bath and West Part 2 - A brush with Farming Royalty

Bath and West two today and another early start due to checking all animals first.  Kristy came along to assist, it poured in the afternoon, weather was dodgy in the morning but it was another enjoyable day.  Judges were Mary-Jo and Barbara and it was very interesting listening to their oral reasoning.  I thought Barbara did a really thorough job with judging the Junior Handler - tough job, as there were some great handlers in the class.  Lots of proud looking breeders coming out of the ring and I have a couple of lovely photos but sadly cannot get them off the phone - another time hopefully.  This photo, however, was taken by Kristy and I am pretty proud of my nifty bit of jumping around which makes it looks like I am speaking words of wisdom to a very interested personality - I am not and made a right idiot of myself which I will not explain in detail but, as I am a sad person who is easily impressed, I quite like it!!

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Bath and West Part 1

No photos as I forgot the camera - will try to do better tomorrow!  Good day today at the Bath and West.  It was not a show day but we took along some knitting and sold even some of my more experimental pieces!  Val Fullerlove was there doing an excellent talk and walk round with weaving, spinning and felting demonstrations (there might have been more things but I was in charge of some Reddingvale alpacas and didn't want any of them escaping and charging across the car park so I stayed glued to their side.  When I did have to disappear for a moment, Chas kindly sold a bobble hat for me which I thought was pretty awesome.  The Mighty Patou attempted to sort out my Blackberry with much scrolling through menus and thumb typing - it does now work apart from the email.

Apple Vale had the most amazing felted hats - The Downton Collection - beautiful things in lovely colours, sadly I don't have the hair to do them justice (Reddingvale was kind enough to point out how windswept I was looking first thing and I had spent 30 minutes the night before with the tongs).

Carl, Sam and Kristy have been shearing but had to miss one on the list due to rain - shearing schedule now suffering another bit of a set back!

Tuesday 27 May 2014


Bit of a rest day today as Carl is back at work and I am pottering.  Carl, Sam and Kristy said they were shearing all day in Devon but they were obviously having fun in the sun as well!
 Ducks are still intermittently escaping - Sam thinks he spotted them !


Monday 26 May 2014


We have been doing things - despite no blog!

We have been busy with shearing but rain did stop play a bit on Saturday - luckily we had an extra day this weekend to catch up.  I am also getting knitting ready and am on my least favourite job of sewing in ends which is why I have escaped upstairs to write a blog.

Still got a few of ours to shear but not sure when they will get done  and it is raining again now which is going to play havoc with this week's shearing jobs.  Carl, Sam and Kristy have all been in Devon shearing today so I have been in charge here - I am not even in proper phone contact so not sure whether tea is required when they get back.  I have a new phone, a Blackberry and I love it!  Within two minutes in the field I had set up my email so it pings onto my phone which I think is so cool.  It no longer does that and it doesn't make calls or have a signal anywhere but the man in India I spoke to assured me this is normal and nothing to worry about.  I did feel a tad disappointed but refrained from telling him that phones that will not make phone calls may be the norm in foreign lands but I really felt it should be more than a fashion statement.  However, he seemed so concerned that I have a nice day that I did not want to disappoint him and am learning to relove my Blackberry despite it being useful for little except to be a sort of silent, illuminated companion.  I have been told to keep turning it off and on again until it springs into life which reminds me of the Head of IT in a school I used to work in.

Ah well!  Here are Dobby and Caedmon - my very first alpacas - two wethers, old boys now, and completely lovely!

Monday 19 May 2014

Shearing - again!

A hard day shearing today - it is just too hot!

This afternoon we did Bert which I was worried about as she is the one with the leg problem.  Apart from the fact that she spat and shrieked all the way through it was fine but she looks pretty ropey!  We only used the ropes on one leg at the back - not the bad leg and we didn't use the bag on her neck.  I held her head and we just did the best we could - avoiding too much movement and being very careful at the back.

I wore my Horner Shearing vest which I have had for a while, I think someone gave it to me, and both Carl and Sam think I look ridiculous.  Apparently only thin people or muscley people should wear them but it was cool and stretchy.  I must find a full legth mirror from the shed and see if I really look as bad as they say!

I wrote the above yesterday but was so tired I had to go to bed before I finished!

I didn't take much in the way of photos as I was running round in ever decreasing circles with my broom and toe nail clippers but managed a couple of shots when Sam and Kristy took over - Sam is getting to be quite a good little shearer and Kristy is very good at getting the leg ropes on and clearing - she nearly tried shearing one but we didn't quite get round to it.  She can do sheep so will probably be good.  Carl is disappointed with his new Horner Zopper clippers and reverted to the Lister ones.  The Horner ones gave up, rattled and stopped and they had only done about 30 alpacas since he got them ready for this years shearing.  I must get in touch with Horner as that can't be right.

Bianca, Sam's alpaca

Trouble, dirty already, with dear little Rascal scratching

Ropey, but gorgeous, old Bert
Once sheared we could see that Cassie had a completely straight neck - no kink left at all following her hay rack incident.  Rascal looks so sweet and little but I didn't manage a good photo of her.  It never ceases to amaze me how little and delicate they look after shearing.  All of ours we sheared yesterday were very good - even the first time being sheared ones - with the exception of Bert who, as usual, cried and spat throughout.  Despite that, she managed her after shearing strawberry without a problem!

Thursday 15 May 2014

Not again!

Can't believe it!  Another  snake in the garden!  This time I know it was really a slow worm but it was outside the back door with the two cats looking at it and it scared me to death.  I put my boots on and jumped around swearing and shrieking - which did not make it disappear as I had hoped.  I then thought - if it disappears I won't know where it is and that will be worse so I threw the mop bucket on it and stood guard with the mop whilst phoning mother.  It escaped and came towards me whilst I did a sort of hornpipe dance whilst flourishing my mop - this continued until mother arrived, picked it up and went off with it.  I am now having the vapours!

Shearing did not go to plan and we only managed nine.  We ended up helping the friend move until getting on for 2 in the morning the night before and then I managed, somehow, to shred my car tyre whilst trying to get out the drive in the morning.  Luckily, the trusty car had a spare tyre which Carl said is not always the case nowadays - how ridiculous!  Once we did get around to shearing it went fine but we were not as on the ball as we should have been.

So - from this -

To this -
You may notice Dobby, the black, isn't sheared as we were on white boys first.  He is now as we managed to get black boys done afterwards.  None of the white youngest boys are done though - tomorrow is another day!

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Bending over, escaping and preparing to shear!

I am a bit behind with blogging I am afraid.  It has been a busy few days with sheep and ducks refusing to stay where I want them to stay, toenails and helping a friend move house.  Tomorrow looks like we will be starting shearing so things are not going to calm down for a while!

I seem to spend a lot of my time bent over with my backside in Carl's face holding a pair of clippers.  Next time we do a toe nail visit I think I will hold the alpaca whilst Carl trims the nails!  Tomorrow's focus is shearing which will be nowhere near as organised as a friend who has actually had the foresight to print off labels for her fleece bags - I have sticky labels and a marker pen and have still to check if the pen works!  We are doing the older boys first and then the others who are white but probably leaving the coloured and youngsters a bit.  Tyke and Wonky have plenty of fleece on them but they are only young still and not keen on using their shelter - I know, I am being silly and they would be fine!
I tried to get a photo of them jumping around but kept just missing the perfect shot!
The ducks are being VERY naughty and have a penchant for getting out of their pen and walking off down the road.  I then have to find them and walk back with them waddling along in a line.  I have caught the boy flying over the gate and then quaking to the girls until they squeeze under the chicken netting.  I think I have stopped him with the use of an enormous alpaca hurdle but I am not convinced it will work.
All is growing well (including weeds) with the potatoes looking particularly good - although I seem to have got the spacing a bit wrong - unless something has eaten some of them.
I like the look of my onions but the broccoli in the background (or it might be cauliflower - the label  blew away) has been chewed.
Star of the show, however, are the strawberries.  These are just tonight's picking.

Thursday 8 May 2014

Escape artists

The ducks keep escaping!  I have put them back five times today and I think they are lining up for another escape as I type.  They are, however, easy to get back in - "Ducky, Ducky, Ducky" and they all waddle over in a line and follow back into their pen.  They also go in their house at night now but have to be herded in - and I have just discovered that they do not like pasta!

I have been helping a friend pack up ready for a move up north and somehow Sam managed to buy a tractor whilst my back was turned.  I was cross with him as I told him it was yet another thing to park up and even crosser when he asked if he could park it in the poly tunnel.  However, having seen it - and despite the fact that I still will not let him park it in the poly tunnel - it is quite compact!

Lambs are doing well despite a desire to chew through the earth wire on the electric fence.  This is the culprit!
Stumpy still looks pregnant - she is rather large to put it politely!
And here is friendly Scottie with hers.
Now we are busily studying weather reports as thoughts are turning to shearing.  Carl has everything ready but has to prepare very quietly in his shed as a pair of swallows have moved in.

Saturday 3 May 2014

A Lay In

I am embarrassed to admit that I was late getting up this morning and when I took my coffee down to check the alpacas I had to do a double take as the ducks had arrived!



They have used their pond, an old bath, but have not been in their house yet.  Carl made it from a packing case and it has a very nifty door which turns into a ramp for them to walk up.  I did want him to make it with a back that folds down but he went for the easy option and the lid lifts up.

The reason I was late up was that I was tired!  Carl has been away all week and Sam has been gallivanting so I wore myself out a bit.  I did take the opportunity to switch to the summer quilt but Carl spotted that before we even made it into bed.  he insisted on having the winter one on top on his side and then woke up sweating.  I have told him this is not a Premier Inn, there are no spare blankets in the cupboard and I don't do breakfast  (not that good a wife, Barbara!).

We then spent a fair bit of the day doing feet and injections.  Trouble has decided she wants to sit up like a dog for her feet to be done.  She is not struggling, not bothered, just sitting there!

Bert has had a nasty flare up of her eyes again so she has had an antihistamine and cream on her eyes which she really enjoys.  This photo gives me the opportunity for you to see hair cut mark 2 - it is an improvement on version 1 believe it or not!

Friday 2 May 2014

A chat with a man with a spade

Not as wet today as I thought it might be so a chance to get a few photos.
Bill about to jump on Ben

A very sprightly old Prue
Some of the girls enjoying their new paddock

And here is Little Wee - venturing out of her Poly Tunnel!

We once had a big black cat called Big Baby when we lived on the hill but he ran away and went to live in my Aunt's barn in the village.  Now we are in the village I often see him walk past and he seems to like Cruella - our other cat.  He is his own man though and does not want me to stroke him, he may resent me calling him Big Baby and prefers his new name, Barney!

On the way to the shops in Blandford I was held up by road surfacing by the Delcombe wood turn off which was the ideal opportunity for me to corner a man with a spade and a high vis jacket (they are the ones that are really in touch with what is going on).  After a little conversation on his walkie talkie with the man in charge I am now fully up to date on the Bell Hill road closure saga.  It will be done Wednesday and Thursday next week and this is from a man with an enormous machine so I feel I can rely on him - we will see!

And we shared the strawberry - one third for me, one third for Carl and one third for Bert!

And - Duck house finished, straw obtained, Ducks arriving in the morning!

Thursday 1 May 2014

Trauma in the Garden

Raining - always seems to be raining with brief sunny bits.  Last year we were just getting ready for shearing at the weekend but this year we have cancelled this weekends jobs as the weather still looks difficult.  This is last year!

A calamitous day yesterday has led to me having to go around in far too many clothes.  In the morning (at least I think it was yesterday - it has all become a blur) I overtook the Gravedigger on his massive John Deere and went home thinking I had better get mine out and tackle the lawn but I put it off as Sam was around and I needed his help with some heavy lifting.  In the afternoon O cam home with hopes of tackling the weed situation but as I went up the garden I encountered a wriggly, long snake.  I am petrified of snakes so ran up to the greenhouse and shut myself in there so I could phone Sam to rescue me.  As I was doing this I realised the greenhouse was lovely and warm and might be home to lots of snakes so I dashed out and balanced on the water butt all the time trying to get hold of Sam.  Eventually I did and he came and took it away in a bucket but if there was one there will be more so I now have to wear big boots and a hat whatever the weather.  Carl has been away all week but the moment he gets back I have a snake hunt job for him.  I mowed the lawn so I can at least see what I am stepping on.

The garden is doing well but the weeds are growing even better and the slugs are out in force.  Due to the reptile situation I have not been able to do anything about it today but I did rush out and get a photo of two amazing bits of growth - The Apricot tree -

and now I have a difficult dilemma with this one - do I just quietly eat it or wait until Carl gets back and share it - or give it to Bert?!

Little Wee loves the Poly tunnel!

Over the field this afternoon I met the ranger who was checking footpaths as someone had complained a bit was blocked - I asked him about Bell hill still being closed and he was very helpful, ringing to find out what was happening.  I then discussed the snake situation with him and we decided the best think was for me to make noise as I walk up the path which is why I now have to stamp and sing.